Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in 2006 that, "People are learning how to use the site and what's OK to share. As time goes on, people will learn what's appropriate, what's safe for them — and learn to share accordingly."
So, have we learned anything?
Last week, Kate Dailey of Newsweek speculated on the 10 ways that the popular social networking website facebook can potentially ruin your life.
According to Dailey, some of the possible life-ending outcomes of using facebook include:
- Getting caught: if you owe money to a credit company, creditors may use facebook to track surreptitious debtors looking to evade bills. What's more, creditors have started to rely on news feeds and photographs to check on a debtor's potential assets.
- Getting stalked: Facebook has made it easier than ever for abusive partners or even strangers to keep track of their victims. Think of how many ordinary couples you know who have had fights that originated over content published on facebook... now add in the abuse factor, and it's pretty easy to see how this made Newsweek's top 10
- Getting depressed: Most individuals feel that by talking through issues with friends, one can more easily deal with upsetting or depressing problems. However, the safe, therapeutic conversations of the past have morphed into an obsessive, anxiety-driven dialogue online. When teens, especially, are in constant contact with one another, it seems the conversation itself can become the problem, not the solution.
Dailey draws the conclusion that facebook is ruining lives, and at 500 million active users, that's a lot of devastation...
For what it's worth, this intern has mixed feelings about facebook, but I'm beginning to lean toward the net-negative.
What bothers me about facebook most of all is not so much its life-damning big brother qualities, but how the company has chosen to monetize their brand: by selling our information.
Facebook sells "private information" about its users to advertisers, entertainment companies and other corporations. (Note the private information in quotes, because really, anything and everything you put on facebook is the property of facebook... seriously! read the fine print!)
So, what to conclude? Does using facebook result in a net positive? (Think, keeping up with friends, reuniting long-lost family, enabling individuals to chronicle their lives through commentary, wall posts and pictures); or, is Dailey right about it all: that facebook is doing nothing more than facilitating our anguish, one news feed at a time?
And speaking of facebook. Have you seen the PG's fan page? If you're wasting your life away anyway... you might as well join us.